Ted Williams auction pulls in fans, investors

A statue of Ted Williams is seen at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As Ted Williams memorabilia goes on sale at Fenway Park, it's a chance to consider why we buy collectibles in the first place.

A baseball Babe Ruth autographed for Ted Williams is on diplay at Fenway Park.

Tess Vigeland: This Saturday at Fenway Park, hundreds of items from Ted Williams' personal collection will be auctioned off. Want a momento from the Boston Red Sox slugger? Better get out your checkbook. Some bids are already at heights rivaling the Green Monster.

Lynn Jolicoeur of station WBUR tells us why sports memorabilia auctions are still a hit.


Lynn Jolicoeur: They may just be things.

Auction worker: So this is the Babe Ruth ball in the collection. As you can see it's signed, "To my pal, Ted Williams, from Babe Ruth."

But these things up for auction at Fenway Park were in the hands -- or flying off the bat -- of Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters of all time.

For Jim Gensheimer of San Francisco, who grew up in Massachusetts, that means memories.

Jim Gensheimer: The time I spent at Fenway with my father, watching Ted Williams play, that's what jazzes me about it.

Those memories translate into money. That ball that Babe Ruth signed for Williams? Someone has already bid more than $53,000 for it in online.

And the plaque Williams got for winning the 1949 American League MVP? It's at $146,000.

David Hunt: Right or wrong, sports always transcends just about everything.

David Hunt is president of Hunt Auctions. He's specialized in vintage sports memorabilia for 20 years. Hunt says the recent recession didn't really affect him much -- because a lot of his customers see the items he auctions as an investment, as opposed to just collectibles.

Hunt: Many, many times when we sell these sorts of collections, five years later we'll get clients that'll contact us and say, "We've been made aware that you sold Ted Williams' MVP Award or Ted Williams' jersey. We'd like to buy that from the person you sold it to."

Long-time Red Sox fan Lois Dominique wishes she could bid on something that belonged to Ted Williams.

Louis Dominique: If I could. Financially, not right now, but yeah.

The piece that's caught her eye? A picture of Williams kissing a bat.

Dominique: This is the stuff my father talked about, you know? It's not the scandals and horrible things today. It's the good stuff. It's the true grit.

In Boston, I'm Lynn Jolicoeur for Marketplace.

A baseball Babe Ruth autographed for Ted Williams is on diplay at Fenway Park.

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